Undertaker & The B.S.K
Whenever people would ask what the BSK was, I'd say If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” - Savio Vega
On screen, The Undertaker has been a part of many different teams and factions over the course of his illustrious career.
From tag team partnerships with his kayfabe brother Kane, to his leading role as the head of the Ministry of Darkness and even aligning with the McMahons to create the super group The Corporate Ministry.
Behind the scenes however, The Undertaker led a different kind of faction. Born out of the need to stop the overwhelming domination in the locker room, brought by rival group the Kliq.
Throughout the mid-90s the Kliq had assumed a lot of control over the creative storylines and how matches were won, with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Triple H, Scott Hall & Sean Waltman – banding together to give themselves more negotiating power.
Other wrestlers in the locker room felt pressured by the Kliq and decided that they couldn’t continue to run unopposed.
In 1993, The Undertaker, a man who has demanded respect amongst his peers since the early days of his career, pulled his closest allies in the business, even closer – and through a love of playing dominos with one of the oddest combinations of WWF wrestlers you’ll likely ever see team up – BSK was born.
Godwinn - They used to call me Hillbilly Love. Undertaker came up with that. He wrote a song about me. He and Yoko were rapping it one night in the car. How many people can say that Undertaker and Yoko rapped a song about them?
FORMATION OF BSK
To understand deeper about the formation of this mysterious collaboration, I want to dive into some quotes from the men who were there at the time, riding on the road and see what they have to say:
GODFATHER: Everybody thinks that The Undertaker started The BSK, but it was actually Yoko. Yoko was always the mouthpiece at the time.
HENRY O. GODWINN: It stood for the Bone Street Krew. Myself, The Undertaker, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Savio Vega, Brian Adams, Paul Bearer, and Papa Shango. Then [Mideon] came up a year later and joined, too.
GODFATHER: Me and The Undertaker were friends before. I didn’t know any of the other guys except from what I saw of them on TV. I met them all in WWE. We were just a bunch of guys with similar personalities.
VEGA: When I arrived to the group, they had been there for a year or two, and knowing Yokozuna and Rikishi, I was accepted.
GODWINN: I worked against Undertaker one night on Monday Night Raw. We beat the stuff out of each other. After that night, he took me under his wing. I started riding with Paul Bearer and him. Then my partner came up, and me, him, Paul and Taker were together all the time.
MIDEON (WWE Superstar from 1996 to 2001, aka Phineas I. Godwinn, member of The Ministry of Darkness): I was already friends with a lot of the guys. I was the last “inductee” into The BSK. You had to have Undertaker and Yokozuna discuss if you could be in. No pressure.
VEGA: Fuji was with us, too. We called him “uncle.”
These men banded together, not only for functional reasons – they travelled together, lodged together, ate together everything – the men who were drawn together because of business, soon realised they had a lot in common.
As they sat discussing their last match and how each one of them could improve, over a beer or 10 – the men created a lasting bond which all of them talk of fondly to this day.
The age-old tabletop game dominoes can trace it’s lineage back to the earliest games humans ever played with something created for the pure reasoning of entertainment and fun.
The domino pieces were originally simple stones with scratched symbols to indicate different values of each rock.
As the game evolved and mankind’s ability to create became more sophisticated, people began to carve animal bones into pieces which resemble an early form of the modern-day domino. The rich elite were afforded more luxurious forms of the early domino game with fine stones being inlayed with pieces of animal bone and ivory from tusks.
This is where we derive the modern-day term for dominos – Bones.
Apart from there shared passion for the wrestling business, the members of BSK in WWF shared other hobbies, the main one being playing dominoes into the early hours of the morning, on long journeys and often accompanies by a swig or two of Jack Daniels.
GODFATHER: We were a bunch of guys that hung out together, rode together, listened to the same type of music, did the same things at night … and we played dominoes. The Godwinns didn’t play dominoes. Savio played. But the ones that definitely played were me, Rikishi, Yoko and Undertaker, Yoko would talk like a gangster. One time he said, “BSK. Bone Street Krew in the house!” That was Yoko starting it.
Like any sane group of 30 – 50 year old work colleagues would do. And in one of the most ‘pro-wrestling-y’ thing ever, the members of the Bone Street Krew went out and got tattoos marking their life-long allegiance to the group.
SHAWN MICHAELS (WWE Hall of Famer, member of The Kliq): Much like The Kliq, they were just guys that hung out with each other. At some point, after guys had stirred up the locker room about The Kliq, all of those guys got BSK tattoos.
VEGA: I got interested in tattoos. On the right arm, I have a couple of things, like a spider and a web. I said to the guy, “On this side, I want you to put BSK.” I arrived to the arena, and I said, “OK, I got my tattoo. I want to see more tattoos.”
GODFATHER: I was like, “Man, we’ve all got to get these tattoos.” We all had tattoos anyway. I had this demon on my back. He’s got really big hands, and across his knuckles, it says BSK. It’s really cool.
GODWINN: You had to come up with your own thing. Mine is on my leg and it’s in a design that says BSK. Having that put on you, you must have been pretty tight guys.
MIDEON: I got two. I got a dagger on my arm. A couple of years later, I got the letters on my neck. Obviously, The Undertaker has the biggest one. He always takes his singlet off at the end of a match, and when he does, bam, there’s the tattoo.
VEGA: Undertaker got it tattooed on his belly big time. Yoko said he was going to have a small one on his arm or hand. Rikishi never did. But I was the first one to have BSK tattooed on me.
Everyone has their own valid opinions about tattoos and this kind of male bonding, in the fraternity sense.
Members of the rival group the Kliq, especially Triple H have been outspoken about their opposition to the idea of these kinds of tattoos, even going as far as to call it embarrassing.
But it is of nobody’s business but those in the B.S.K who decided all those years ago to sear those iconic letters into their skin forever.
THE GODFATHER (WWE Superstar from 1991 to 2002): It’s funny. It was so long ago. I talked to Rikishi a couple of days ago, and it seems like everybody has a different feel for what BSK was.
As of 2020, 5 members of the BSK have been selected for a place in the WWE Hall of Fame, Mr Fuji, Yokozuna, Paul Bearer, Rikishi and The Godfather all taking their rightful place amongst this legendary record of the industries greatest performers. Surely its only a matter of time before that number becomes 6 with the induction of the Undertaker.
The guarded nature of the BSK members and their unwillingness to allow insiders into their business, means that as we look back into wrestling history, this rag tag group of men perhaps don’t stand out as much as the Kliq or The Stampede guys like the Harts;
JBL (WWE Legend, third-party to both The Kliq and The BSK): The rest of the locker room never found out what it meant. You’re not going to ask, ’cause they’re not going to tell you. Nobody was willing to ask.
– but their simple existence meant that they were able to put a limit on the powers of others within the pro wrestling industry for better and for worse, either way – behind the scenes the BSK had a huge impact on the WWE.